Scott D. Pierce: Goldbergs’ is funny, loud, autobiographical

First Published      Last Updated Dec 09 2013 09:13 am

The Goldbergs" is based on the life of creator/executive producer Adam F. Goldberg. As a matter of fact, those home-movie clips you see at the end of each episode (Tuesday, 8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) are actual home movies of the actual Goldbergs back in the 1980s.

If you pay attention, however, you'll see that the real Adam does not have a sister. The sitcom Adam (Sean Giambrone), however, does have an older sister, Erica (Hayley Orrantia).

"Basically, in thinking of the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell, I thought adding a daughter into the mix would just open up the whole world and bring us different kinds of stories," Goldberg said.

Fair enough. But is it a coincidence that the sitcom Adam has a sister named Erica and the real Adam has a brother named Eric?

"I just wanted to torture my oldest brother," Goldberg said. "We always joked that my oldest brother Eric is like a girl anyway. So it was a perfect match."

Does Eric find that funny?

"No, he does not," Goldberg said.

Ten episodes into its run, however, "The Goldbergs" has proven to be a hoot. It still leans a bit too much on '80s pop-culture references at times, but basically it's about a family. A very funny family.

When it was first suggested Goldberg turn his real-life childhood into a sitcom, "I said, 'I can't. There's no way. My family will kill me.' "

But, for the most part, the real Goldbergs are fans. The real Barry wants to make it clear that, unlike the sitcom Barry (Troy Gentile), "he does not run like a tool," Goldberg said. "Aside from that, they're real excited. I mean, it's a nice homage to us growing up."

Really? Despite the fact that the sitcom Goldbergs are loud and argumentative? Despite the fact that sitcom Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is an overbearing, passive-aggressive, controlling mother?

"Yeah, my mom is the most excited," Goldberg said. "This just validated everything she ever did."

And he insisted that what seems like over-the-top exaggeration for the sitcom Goldbergs was just your average day for the real Goldbergs.

"I had over a hundred tapes that I digitized," Goldberg said, "and on every one, there's just some family meltdown. That's how we communicated — just screaming at each other."

But, like the sitcom Goldbergs, there were few lingering effects once the screaming stopped.

"A minute later, my mom would be like, 'Who wants waffles?'" Goldberg said. "So no slamming doors and we don't talk to each other afterwards. Instantly, we just move on, and we've said what we have to say."

Except that 30 years later, all that yelling and screaming has been translated into a successful sitcom.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.